A Chance for Some Fringe Players to Shine? Sheffield United Prematch & Predicted Line-Up

Azeez, please

The psychological flaw that runs through this Arsenal team was in evidence again on Thursday night when we blew our chances of going to Prague with a lead and a clean sheet.

That return leg now takes on huge dimensions. If we don’t qualify our season is over with weeks to go.

It should mean some of our best players will be rested (or at least not risked) as we take on bottom placed Sheffield United today.

Tierney is out for ‘four to six weeks’ and Luiz is also unavailable after undergoing a minor procedure, so they definitely won’t feature.

Odegaard and Smith Rowe are both being assessed for ankle injuries. In the circumstances it would be crazy if the club took a gamble with playing them today instead of wrapping them in cotton wool until Thursday. I think it would also be mad to play Saka today.

This is a game you would expect us to win, but with the current Arsenal team nothing can be taken for granted and I don’t think many fans will be feeling overoptimistic about our chances, even against a team that has managed only four wins in 30 games.

Perhaps Mikel Arteta will feel emboldened to give a chance to some younger and fringe players.

Many of his senior men, like Willian, Ceballos, Aubameyang, Lacazette and Pepe have – to varying degrees – been letting him down badly all season.

We’re going to finish somewhere in mid table (outside of the European positions) whatever happens, so why not use our remaining league games to start planning for next season?

Martinelli, Azeez and Balogun could all be considered for starts and I would like to see Mat Ryan given a run out in goal instead of the increasingly shaky Bernd Leno.

I don’t really expect many changes, but supporters would cut the team a lot more slack if it had promising youngsters in it instead of the players who have disappointed on a regular basis.

I’m going to go with my hopes rather than my expectations and predict this starting line-up:


Chambers – Holding – Mari – Cedric

Xhaka – Partey


Nelson – Balogun – Martinelli

A convincing performance and a solid win would help steady nerves before the serious business of the Europa League in four days time.



84 Responses to A Chance for Some Fringe Players to Shine? Sheffield United Prematch & Predicted Line-Up

  1. RA says:

    Good Morning, Rocky,

    If I may, before discussing your Post, I would like to post a late comment (below) to clarify a discussion I had with GIE earlier. Thank you.

    From previous Post:

    Hi GIE,

    As I said in my earlier response to your GK comment, it would take a fool to argue with your knowledge and GK experience.

    I have also said, previously, that Leno is an impressive shot stopper.

    I have sometimes been critical about other aspects of his game, but I have become somewhat more sympathetic to his habit of double thinking, because (and I know I am ploughing a lonely furrow here – even tho I am right 😜) that the ridiculous tactic of ‘playing out from the back’ with this squad of players has cost us game after game.

    Defenders keep making short and stupid passes to others in the penalty area simply to get rid of the ball, and their passes are often to team mates in even worse positions – including the GK.

    It is no coincidence that every team we play press very hard knowing there is a high percentage of fluffed passes from which they can capitalise.

    GKs always stand out in these circumstances, so Leno tends to take the blame, so changing that tactic by inserting in the manager’s instruction “play out from the back – when appropriate” — and all our players, including the GK will benefit.

  2. RA says:

    An excellent post, Rocky, well thought out and reasoned explanations.

    I totally agree.

    Like you, I keep hoping Mikel will introduce more of our younger players, if only because we will not lose anything by doing so, and in fact may benefit us both this season and next.

    It won’t happen, as Mikel can be very obstinate (or determined – take your pick).

  3. Sue says:

    Nice one, Rocky!

    ESR (ankle) and Auba (flu) are out.. jeez, I hope they’re fit for Thursday!

    I’m dreading today, even more so after seeing this:
    Arsenal’s record in Sheffield in the Premier League is terrible. Against Wednesday they have won one, drawn two and lost five and versus the Blades won none, drawn two and lost two. This, on top of our injuries, I’m defo pulling the sofa out!

    Not sure where it’s come from – can’t find owt on it – but lots of gooners are saying Leno wants out…

  4. allezkev says:

    Good post, the psychological flaw seems to be the issue where our players seem to struggle with placing the football between the white posts and under the white bar.

  5. LBG says:

    Nice one Rocky!
    Happy with that team, and those that have seen the videos of Balogun in training will have seen what has been described as a “different striker”. Dont care what he’s called as long as, as Kev says, the ball ends up in the back of the onion sack!

  6. Rasp says:

    Great PM thank you Rocky, if only our team were as consistently good.
    I love your line up …. Please god, please let it be so …

  7. Maxwell says:

    Thank you for that, Rocky. I would just like to point out that back in November or December, in the midst of our horrendous run, I suggested tanking for this season and bringing in a slew of youngsters, so that they could be well-prepared for a proper go next season. I was of course largely poo-pooed. Now everyone’s agreeing. The Smith Rowe/Saka/Martinelli bandwagon has gone, so popular is it – with the addition of young Odegaard. They have all showed themselves up to the task, just not yet on a regular basis. Now names like Azeez are being touted (yup, suggested him back then) and Balogun at last. Some will fail, but if some succeed, things will be much better come the summer.

    However, Arteta has largely shown himself to be conservative – at least, at this stage of the team’s evolution. I doubt we will see many young faces other than on the bench. I hope we’re both wrong!

  8. RA says:

    Ummm – Maxwell, self praise is no praise.

    The call for more of our youth players to be included in the first team has been suggested/demanded by many on this site ever since last season, and continuously during this season too, from those including Rasp (long term administrator), Rocky (long term Post writer), LBG (long term brother of the famous Ant and Dec Vines, and many others, including myself (a long term nobody).

    If you were poo-pooed it must have been on another site, or for something else you may have said that deserved it.

  9. RA says:

    The debate about whether, or not, the tactics used by Arsenal have contributed to our giving away goals and games is the responsibility of Mikel, or the poor performances of the players, has blown up again, with the blame (allegedly) being pointed at Mikel’s tactics, or on certain players who have been dropped after games like the shambles against ‘Pool.

    I looked back at the Olympiacos fiasco, with particular reference to the ‘play from the back’ which players have been blaming Mikel for, and this is what Arteta said:

    –“Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has made it clear to Bernd Leno and Dani Ceballos that they, and their team-mates, have to cut out major mistakes. Arsenal were again guilty of gifting the opposition a goal in Thursday’s Europa League tie at Olympiacos. The Greek side equalised after Gunners goalkeeper Leno and midfielder Ceballos were caught trying to play out from the back.

    Arsenal won the last-16 first-leg tie 3-1 thanks to goals from Martin Odegaard, Gabriel and Mohamed Elneny.

    But when Youssef El Arabi drew Olympiacos level on the hour mark, Arteta would have wondered if it was going to be another one of those nights.

    [Arsenal also gifted Burnley a similar equaliser in last Saturday’s Premier League match at Turf Moor.]

    And Arteta has made it clear his side can no longer make those mistakes.

    “We have to stop making the errors that our costing goals obviously, because you cannot sustain that at that level,” Arteta told BT Sport.

    “It’s not concentration, it’s about when you play the ball.

    “It’s not about the structure or the decision making, it’s about when you play the ball. It makes the whole difference.

    “It’s not about stopping trying to play the way we play because this is us, and we get a lot of reward. It’s about identifying when we can do it and how we have to do it.”

    Arteta says there are times where his side are better off playing it long rather than passing out from the back.

    “I’m reading the situations, training it when we have more time which we don’t have because we play every three days,” he added.

    “Keep consistent but the worst thing we can do is to get the structure to play and don’t be willing or have fear to play.

    “That’s a really bad mixture. To do that, it’s better to play long.”

    Cannot help it — Im agree with that.

  10. Rasp says:

    Hi Redders, I get all that but, playing out from the back depends first and foremost on the decision making and application of the keeper. Leno has been woeful. Spreading the blame across the whole defence is a cop out. By now, Mikel should have spoken to Leno and his goalkeeping coaches and made sure they know that the option to play it long is better than risking losing possession at the edge of our own box. If he’s done that and they’re still making mistakes it’s clear what he (MA) has to do about it.

  11. RA says:

    Both Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher have said some damning things on Sky Sports about the Arsenal team, and this is a brief summary.

    — “The best things that have happened at Arsenal have come from Saka, ESR and other youngsters from the youth team.

    PEA and Willian have underperformed this season, and Carragher says they have been a negative influence on the team.

    Arteta will have to rely on the club’s younger players to improve their chances in the Premier and the EL

    The fans’ patience has run out, and they would prefer to see Arteta let the senior players go, and build around his exciting youngsters.

    Again, I agree.

  12. RA says:

    That’s logical, Rasper, but until the errors occurring from playing out from the back are recognised, many fans are prepared to blame the players performances instead.

    To my knowledge no one has joined me in establishing the problem with that tactic.

    I had missed Mikel’s interview, and found it and put it up so that there can be no argument about the dangers of this tactic, because Mikel has spoken about it himself.

    I do not think anything I wrote indicates Leno has blamed everyone else, that is only my observation in that “the playout from the back” does not always start from the back, but results in part from the outfield players dumping the problem on him, with yet another rubbish pass.

    The players responsible are clearly not listening to Mikel, and instead of playing the ball “long” when in difficulties – they make poor short passes, and make the situation worse.

    [Just seen Lindgard scoring for Wham, and remembered that Edu tried to get him on loan last summer, but was rejected by Manure, because they thought he would help Arsenal into the top 4 — not sure about that.]

  13. Aaron says:


    Like the lineup!

    Let’s see if Mikel turtles it and goes with status quo.

  14. Maxwell says:

    RA. Thank you for putting me in my place, a mere contributor beside all you vastly more experienced and considerable beings – all of whom, yourself included, with your wit and erudition collectively, are the reason I return to this site to join in. Then there all the erstwhile participants who I loved reading and now miss: where are they? Hopefully not sulking because of some ill-conceived remark about self praise.

  15. LBG says:

    And talking of fringe players, will be a big disappointment to me if we have Luiz in the squad in the Summer and not Mavrapanos!

  16. fred1266 says:

    back to a back 3 nice

    i know some happy to see Martinelli in starting lineup

  17. fred1266 says:

  18. Rasp says:

    Leno in goal 😡 How many more blunders does he have to make to be benched?

    Sheffield United are usually a high energy, high press side. Leon’s decision making will likely be tested.

  19. LBG says:

    Might be back to back three!

  20. LBG says:

    Only place on the pitch I would play Dani for rest of season ie in three behind CF. Dont drop behind Partey and Xhaka, Dani!

  21. Sue says:

    That blue kit 😫😫

  22. LBG says:

    Poor old Totteringham!

  23. LBG says:

    Jamie Rednapp
    They are a crap team, playing for a crap Club, with a double crap Manager! It’s not rocket science.

  24. LBG says:

    Can Xhaka be trusted at left back? Can Dani be trusted alongside Partey? Saka in No10 position, fair enough!

  25. LBG says:

    Sheer class!

  26. What a lovely goal 👏👏👏

  27. When we do it right we do do it beautifully

    Hello everyone

  28. Rasp says:

    It reminded me of Jack’s goal against Norwich

  29. LB says:

    Well, I am going to go wild here and say that that was pretty entertaining.

  30. LBG says:

    Entertaining half. Much better intensity. CLEAN SHEET REQUIRED ABOVE EVERYTHING ELSE. Please Gunners!

  31. RockyLives says:

    My dodgy stream has held up pretty well for most of the game… except for our goal.

    Sounds like it was a good ‘un.

    Some good energy in the team tonight. Nice to see Ceballos having a decent game .

  32. LBG says:

    Hello Peaches
    You have brought sunshine to the blog, and sunshine to the game.

  33. Rasp says:

    The free role for Saka is working well. Martinelli is trying a little too hard, he only needs to find the right pass/cross when shooting isn’t the best option. But he’s been more involved in this half that Auba in the last 3 games

  34. Gööner In Exile says:

    So Saka can play anywhere across front three then, what I love about him and ESR is their football brain. Thats where the talent is, anyone who makes it into the PL has undoubtedly had many thousands of hours with the ball at their feet in training, they should all be able to pass, control, shoot etc. But what is very hard to coach into a player is clarity of decision making and doing the right things at the right time which potentially goes back to RAs post of Artetas comments.

    You give players a structure/shape and a plan of how to shift the ball around that shape, too many seem to wait for when the ball arrives before they start thinking about what they will do with it. That is maybe why Luiz is a better fit in the system because he does have better decision making than most of the other centre backs, Mari has been good with ball at feet.

    I also watched Partey with interest for a while in that half, when the camera was wide ignoring the ball and seeing where he was going whether he was showing, he either doesn’t trust his teammates or is sticking to his task as asked, there were times he could have received the ball facing forward and he directed players to swing it round the back then he was having to turn round and be back to goal and he definitely didn’t want it then, however when Saka or Laca were free to receive the ball he was asking for it with a bit of urgency.

  35. LBG says:

    Laca needs one more goal to join 10 players for Arsenal who have scored 50 goals in Premier League. Joins three other Frenchies- TH, Olivier Giroud, and Robert Pires.

  36. Gööner In Exile says:

    Oh and Leno, anyone else notice the poor handling on the volley down his throat which should have been a routine catch?

    And now fisting a ball that he could have caught and keeping it dangerous.

    It is worrying and if we had a better reserve I think we would see them.

    Whilst Saka has been good Pepe whilst looking liveley and mobile his touch is just so poor on occasion and decision making is troubling.

  37. RockyLives says:

    Leno is such a stranger keeper. He gets a dolly header towards him while standing on his line. Any Sunday morning park team goalie would just catch it – Leno punches.

  38. Rasp says:

    Isn’t punching an indication of lack of confidence in catching the ball?

  39. RockyLives says:

    Laca putting in a mighty shift all over the pitch.

  40. RockyLives says:

    Pepe loses possession way too often.

  41. LBG says:

    So ten minutes in Arsenal. Have you stayed in the dressing room?

  42. Gööner In Exile says:

    Rasp agreed it’s a real sign of indecision.

    There is an argument generally for modern keepers not to try and catch a ball, footballs move so much more so postponing hands to catch and then a sudden deviation can lead to what looks like a howler, so generally keepers seem to use the heel of their palm to parry the ball away with stiff wrists rather than preparing to catch it with “softer” hands.

    However it appears that he is panicking and doing that on every interaction.

    I commented after the Prague game that he was a bit too jumpy in his footwork.

  43. Rasp says:

    Thanks GiE, that explains it …. it sounds like you really don’t rate Ryan. Do you think Ryan would be more of a problem than Leno?

  44. Gööner In Exile says:

    Needed that goal as we had just dropped back 10-20 yards and we’re inviting them on.

    Good work by Pepe and well done Martinelli for staying awake.

  45. Gööner In Exile says:

    Hi Rasp to be honest haven’t seen enough of Ryan to judge I was more talking about lack of competition in Arteta’s eyes.

    Think both our reserve GKs fall into the “break open in case of extreme emergency”.

  46. Rasp says:

    😂 fair enough. I’m very pleased for Martinelli. Being in the right place at the fright time is part of the art of a striker.

  47. Heart in the mouth as Laca runs onto that ball …. never in doubt 🙈😂🙈

  48. LBG says:

    Now that’s the Partey we all want to see creatively.

  49. LBG ….. very nice bit of skill from Partey in the build up

  50. Rasp says:

    Great performance … no obvious weak links in the side tonight. Xhaka did ok at LB and another assured performance from Chambers. It won’t be so easy against Slavia, but if we play with that energy and ambition we should win.

  51. Gööner In Exile says:

    Indeed nice to see what we want from Partey….but raised a question, can’t help thinking if a proper No 10 was playing at the time the pass would not have been on.

    Which begs the question did he play with a Number 10 before he came to us? Also think a No 10 cuts his options to drive forward with the ball?

  52. RockyLives says:

    A good night’s work. We’d be expected to beat SU, but the job still has to be done.

    Well done to MA and the players.

  53. allezkev says:

    Well that was a right tonic, three quality goals insofar as build up and execution, delighted for Martinelli.
    Mari was very steady eddie and Xhaka was solid, just a shame we didn’t get to see Azeez but his time will come.
    Man, did we need that before Thursday…

  54. LB says:

    Happy, happy.

  55. GoonerB says:

    Thanks Rocky. A good win with some really good football, albeit we dont really know how that kind of performance translates against trickier opposition.

    I have been meaning to make more comment and debate, particularly with RA, about the playing out from the back and why I feel it’s important to continue with.

    The best teams with the best players do it. We are not in that bracket at present but have some quality young players who are now 1st team regulars, and more waiting behind them, who will have the skill set to play out from the back, through the team, effectively.

    If we want to get back up with the best we have to challenge ourself in this way. If it exposes certain players deficiencies then so be it. At least we know where we stand with certain players and where we may need to strengthen to allow for this type of game.

    The quality youngsters, who are our future, will be able to be moulded by MA to play out from the back effectively so we shouldn’t stifle their development in this style of play just to hide the deficiencies of others, who don’t represent our future beyond a certain point.

    Right now the EPL games are really ones where we can experiment more and take more risks in trying to refine playing out. The EL games have more riding on them so we maybe should be more pragmatic in those games and not put ourselves under unnecessary pressure at certain times.

    One of the key aspects that makes a team effective in possession from back to front is having players with the confidence and ability to receive the ball in tight spaces when being closed down.

    Those types of players that have the ability to turn away from the press, or take the ball on the turn. In essence to already be on the move as the ball comes to them.

    Today I was impressed with our confidence to play a riskier ball to a player in a tighter space. Both the passer and recipient were invested in this today without anyone really hiding from that higher level but riskier play.

    Our young batch of players have the raw material for this and need a good coach to get them refined with it. Arteta is the right person for the job, so despite some misgivings in his intransigent approach to wanting us to play this way, it is important we allow him to go with it.

    We have a certain amount of players, mostly of a certain age, that he will not be able to coach in this style beyond a certain point, but this is all part of the clubs transitional phase under MA.

    The temporary pain will be rewarded with a higher level next generation, and then we will be consistently competitive at the top end of things again. However, as stated, I am all for a touch more pragmatism in the last (possible) 4 games in the EL.

  56. Aaron says:

    Reasonable win, but again at what cost?
    Saka not in the Red zone, of course the kid is.

    So, Mikel starts him in this game knowing we have a do or die game on Thursday, and tougher games coming up.

    I seriously am questioning the logic in Mikel’s man management at this point.

    If Ode, ESR and Saka are no go’s on Thursday and AFC does not get a win, it surely falls on the Mikel for not giving our guys a rest.

  57. LBG says:

    Tending to agree with your ” playing out from the back” thoughts regarding the future development of the team. ( Let’s say 55/45, so Ant and Duck might say you are only talking bollea…….!)
    But a flexibility of approach is also required. Thought the analysis of the way West Ham were “playing to their (direct) strengths”, from an Arsenal legend, of course, was spot on.
    My worry would be by the time we have defenders capable of playing the Manshitty/MA way the rest of the top teams will have moved on to another tactic.

  58. Gööner In Exile says:

    Aaron, Sakas injury appeared to come from impact rather than tiredness, but until we know for definite think it’s hard to judge. He has just had the international break recovery (coupled with an injury).

    Problem is for all managers if the replacements are not performing then they are left with little option.

  59. LBG says:

    Topics for debate.
    Laca’s leadership skills, ( compared to Aubang and Bellerin)
    Do we want Aubang to be ” well again” for Thursday?
    Thomas Partey ” a creative monster” in midfield as well as a brick wall.
    Xhaka ” the perfect player to work with! If you ask him to play centre forward, he says ‘yes, yes, I will do my best’ “. ( God help us – my words).

  60. Gööner In Exile says:

    LBG there is something in that with Xhaka undoubtedly, I get the feeling he is very good at following instructions given.

    Also on Laca his movement and energy was impressive considering he has had so many minutes played this season and when Saka and ESR have been asked they’ve both given him credit for the support off the pitch.

    Although I don’t like centre forwards as captain.

  61. GoonerB says:

    LBG / GIE, the interesting thing with Xhaka on yesterdays game was that he got the ball at feet more often facing forwards which allowed him to use his wand of a left foot a lot.

    He tends to struggle at times when coming to receive the ball facing his own goal if oppo players are nearer to him, and doesn’t have that turn and go or surge of pace to drive away from the press.

    Xhaka is a good servant to the team who should be kept but this is where I wonder whether Azeez will take us to another level eventually.

  62. LBG says:

    TG, that rules out Xhaka as well as captain then!😁

  63. LBG says:

    Xhaka…”a good servant”….a bit like Oddjob!

  64. VP says:

    I think Partey will be a huge player for us in the years ahead so he is my choice as captain from next season.

    Great result for providing me with an overall warm satisfied glow to get us out of this arctic cold snap. It was like 12 degrees here yesterday.

  65. Gööner In Exile says:

    LBG it was noticeable that Partey does have it in him to turn away, but if he is to receive the ball that deep it’s dangerous.

    Maybe we are all missing something, may be the object is not for Xhaka to get the ball but for him to be an option that drags players away from others.

    The problem being it is a weakness so opponents do not shut him down hard and almost want to let him have the ball.

    Very different to when Arteta played for us under Wenger, I remember a game against United where he put Rooney on Arteta all game because they knew everything from the back went through him and that our other options were too far up the pitch. Thing was Arteta was good with speed of thought so could not be soft pressed as he would be able to pass out still, Xhaka doesn’t have that in him and therefore doesn’t have to be marked tight.

  66. RA says:

    No problem at all with your 10:17, GB, and good morning to you.

    That must have surprise you!! 😜

    Actually, I think you may have misunderstood what I have been saying about the ‘play from the back’ tactic because of the failure of my erudition.

    If we had players like City none of us would be talking about those tactics; if we had the pace and skills of ‘Pool – ditto.

    But we have not got the same level of skills or pace in the defence or midfield of those teams, as our current princely 9th position in the Premier confirms.

    So my comments have been aimed at the inclination of some to blame the players for the appalling gifting of goals to other teams because they do not have the requisite skills or wit to manage the tactic.

    I thought that a lot of that anger, particularly that aimed at Leno, was because Mikel insisted we play that way despite the lack of quality of the available players.

    Having a little search I found the article where Mikel stated his case, in that the tactic was important, but when teams were pressing it was totally OK to pass the ball long, and even he did not know why they didn’t.

    That last paragraph summed it up for me (in my words) and I am now happy to support Mikel’s management as he does accept flexibility is necessary and important.

    Sorry if I have not been clearer in my earlier prognostication that we were doomed if the play from the back tactic could not be changed — MA does not insist on that, so Yaaaay. 👍

  67. allezkev says:

    I thought that Xhaka had a great game, I know that he’s a marmite player but there’s a reason why Wenger, Emery, Ljungberg and Arteta all pick or have picked him and it’s not because of his social skills.

  68. RA says:

    Good morning, LGB, brother of the famous Ant and Duck,

    Would you please stop writing in code, it takes me ages to work out what you are referring to — TG — wots that — rules out the captaincy — and wots that about.

    I’m still working on the above! 🙄

  69. GoonerB says:

    I think it’s even more simplistic than that GIE. A concept that Arsene himself used years ago is probably still relevant to playing from back to front against the modern high press.

    AW referred to green lights and red lights. The green lights were players in positions to receive the ball, I.e an option for the player on the ball, and red lights were players who were not positioned to be an option.

    The more green lights you had the more effective the team was as a possession based team. At times we are lacking green light options with a few too many red ones with certain players not moving enough to make themself a green light.

    We just need more green lights and then those green lights to be able to turn with the ball and drive away from opposition. We have looked short of passing options and movement being a bit too static at times when we play ourselves into trouble

  70. RA says:

    Hi Kev,

    From the position Xhaka was playing he ‘waved his magic wand’ of a leg (I think LBG or GB said that – no, that couldn’t have been LGB, could it?)

    I am not really a fan of Xhaka, but he has got a terrifically accurate cross ball pass to the wing, or the other forwards, as I saw last night.

    I still think he is slow, one footed (not physically – I definitely counted 2 feet) and has a tendency to fart around in the penalty area — but he is not all bad. 😜

  71. RA says:


    I never heard Arsene talking about green or red fairy lights to describe players.

    No wonder he got sacked!! Tssk 😁

  72. LBG says:

    “Waved his magic wand”….about Xhaka!!!!……definitely not me. I think you are giving him too much credit in you description.

    Sorry about TG! Thank God, of whatever colour, creed, or otherwise you might support! Too much Line of Duty for me! And if you dont recognise that, look up current British TV on Netflix, but I warn you, you will get hooked.
    Happy first day out of lockdown for all on this happy Isle.

  73. LBG says:

    “your description” 😁, even.

  74. RA says:


    Thanks for the explanation! 😛

    I am feeling somewhat magnanimous this morning, so my comment about Xhaka was intended to be balanced, as he did make some accurate passes from LB to Winger, and altho that did not materialise into anything effective, that was because the recipient was Pepe.

    The final para summed up, in brief, the other side of his performance, particularly where his flatulence in the penalty area is only matched by that of GB’s camel.

    (Don’t say anything, but I was on the verge of finishing the analogy by omitting the word ‘camel’.

    ” ….. only matched by that of GB”

    I doubt GB would have noticed, but the camel might have been offended. In any event, I would have simply blamed you!! 🤪

  75. GoonerB says:

    Sorry RS, one of those itty bitty days for me so please allow me some latitude if my responses are somewhat after the lord mayors show.

    Actually it is me who hasn’t elaborated enough. I am pleased that Arteta hasn’t set set it in stone that playing out has to be 100% of the time but that it remains important and the way forward.

    I have felt that Leno has been slightly scapegoated because he plays the first ball. He has misplaced some but others have been fine as long as you have a De Bruyne player receiving that first ball.

    Unfortunately Leno often isn’t passing to De Bruyne so it looks as if he has played the player into unnecessary trouble. Is that Leno’s fault though.

    I actually agreed with most of your premise that unless we have the players to do it then why do it until we have those players?

    My only caveat is that, while we have some current senior 1st team players who aren’t that adept at it, we have players who can do it in Partey, ESR, Odegaard, Saka, Martinelli. We also have Azeez and Patino waiting to come through who also have the ability.

    I suppose the question is do we stop doing it to accommodate those players who cant do it or should we just do it anyway and expose where the weaknesses are?

    I go for the former because, although it gets us into trouble at times, it’s important that our future stalwarts develop in this style while the ones that cant manage it will be yesterdays news in the near future so why accommodate their weaknesses?

    However, I wouldn’t risk it in the EL because that is too important and we can win that even with some pragmatism in playing out and sometimes just clearing the lines.

    The EPL games though are kind of freebies from here on in where we can experiment and take the risk with the style we want to adopt and then find out who can and who can’t.

  76. GoonerB says:

    RA even 😄 bloody predictive text

  77. GoonerB says:

    Sorry that was meant for RA, not his distant cousin RS.

  78. allezkev says:

    Hi Red, yeah I gather that Granit isn’t numero uno but he always plays, he rarely has a rest and he will play in unfamiliar positions to help out the team and we’ve had a few of them who most certainly won’t put the team first in recent years, but I respect you view. 😉

  79. LBG says:

    RS thinks you are talking “bolleaux”! RA, not sure?

  80. RA says:


    And to reciprocate, you know I have always enjoyed and respected your views too.

    I have to be candid, when we first saw Xhaka with his incredibly powerful shooting boots, and his dexterity while standing on his right leg, I thought we had. a very promising midfielder who looked like he did not take any prisoners.

    As time went on his lack of pace etc became pretty obvious, and I realised his right leg did not help as it was permanently fixed for minutes at a time in the pitch turf, and I gradually felt disappointed that he was not the player I had initially hoped he was.

    I would not like this to get out, but unless I wear my foil buccaneers hat, LBG, one of the trio of famous brothers, can send signals to me that capture my thoughts and make me say – hiccough, oh oh, hiccough, damnation — well pretty much anything he wants.

    That third of the trio has a lot to answer for, and I will hiccough take it to Ant – and he will hiccough sort it.

  81. RA says:


    The major problem I have with your insightful bolleaux summary — stop it LBG — apart from the little green and red men from Mars – is the sentiment that is very near the knuckle, “we want to adopt and then find out who can and who can’t”

    Who can and who can’t what? Sheesh!!

  82. RC78 says:

    Laca was the glue yesterday

  83. RC78 says:

    New post

  84. Gööner In Exile says:

    I have to look at Artetas time in charge with several caveats.

    He took over a struggling team that had forgotten how to go forward and no defensive cohesion.

    He has played 12 months under the spectre of Covid, and a very strange transfer window plus a second where funds of every club are severely limited.

    He has had to remove players from the club, some probably had friends in the squad who have either been rejuvenated or continue to be destructive (big time charlies).

    He also has a delicate mix he can’t go out and say that the squad is not as he wants because that would demoralise anyone he needs from time to time so he needs to pick teams based on squad harmony, he also cannot say that he is prepared to take multiple steps backwards as that doesn’t look great from a fans point of view although I know many of us expect and accept that it needs to happen. So he is stuck in this in between stage where he and the club feel they need to continue being “big” and signing big names whilst trying to rebuild. Hence keeping players like Aubameyang as the negative press of not keeping him may have been more damning (especially with the club worried about potentially being able to put backsides on seats).

    I try and compare his arrival to Klopp’s at Liverpool they also took a few backward steps initially while he made changes to Brendan Rodgers squad.

    2015-16 6th
    2016-17 4th
    2017-18 4th
    2018-19 2nd, Champions League Winners
    2019-20 1st

    That’s 4/5 years to build to where they are and let’s not forget the squad he took over had some strong names in it:
    Enrique, Toure, Lovren, Skrtel, Milner, Coutinho, Henderson, Emre Can, Benteke, Sturridge, Firmino, Origi

    They had also recently capitalised on selling Suarez £65m in 2014 and in 2015 Sterling £44m.

    We have had the opportunity to capitalise on selling big names which we have chose not to take, and now I’m sure like anyone else I fear losing Saka, ESR, KT etc for money we cannot refuse.

    What is really intriguing is looking at signings made by Klopp in the summer following his arrival, in – Matip, Mane, Wijnaldum, out is a longer list but it included Benteke, Balotelli. Similarly the following season out went Coutinho, but in came Salah, Van Dijk and Robertson.

    What am I getting at? Whilst Liverpool had a decent squad that could be moulded into decent performances and results they didn’t fit his style, and he couldn’t go in and clear out in one fail swoop it took time to get it how he wanted.

    Arteta is on more of a sticky wicket as whilst on paper our squad looks good on the pitch it doesn’t, at least Coutinho delivered for Klopp while there, even if he wasn’t quite the player he wanted, whereas we have players in a similar vein who are not delivering for the manager, perhaps because they are older they’ve had their best contract chance.

    Wengers policy of not giving more than one year extensions to players over 30 does look wise in hindsight. To think we may be about to be lumbered with him for 3 years (until he is 34!) when we have Laca about to enter last year of his contract aged 29 and arguably a better fit for Arteta’s desired system and more energetic on the pitch.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: